How Lily James Trained for Her Role as Pamela Anderson

When Lily James landed the role of Pamela Anderson in Pam & Tommy, which is out this week, she faced the challenge of achieving the beauty icon’s body as well as her hair and makeup. To do so, she turned to personal trainer Matt Bevan, who helped hone her physique into one like Anderson’s. Spoiler alert: they nailed the brief. 

“With Lily playing such an icon, there was always going to be a huge pressure to look as much like Pamela as possible, but what I always feel is equally important is getting my clients to a place where they can perform their absolute best—that meant embodying Anderson’s inner confidence and strength, as well as getting Lily as aesthetically close to accurately portraying her as possible,” says Bevan, adding that James’s work ethic in pursuit of her goal was impressive. “She did a lot of work and research behind the scenes.”

Pamela Anderson in 1992.

eddie sanderson

With a four-month period to achieve the goal, Bevan created a program for James which consisted of four to five sessions a week. They trained virtually (because lockdown) so didn’t have the luxury of big gym spaces and machines; instead, it was back to basics, which is proof you don’t need an expensive gym membership to nail your fitness goals. “We had to get creative and made use of light dumbbells, resistance bands, sliding discs and towels—yes, the ones you use to dry yourself!” he says. “Then we adjusted variables, such as the tempo of each exercise, stability and range of motion.”

They started slowly so that James felt comfortable and confident with key exercises that she’d be performing more as time went on—this, says Bevan, was key to ensuring she was using the correct muscles and technique, and staying injury free. “After that, we moved into full body strength, circuit-based workouts, increasing her strength and aerobic conditioning,” he says. James would do 12-15 reps of bigger movements (such as dumbbell or banded deadlifts, kettlebell goblet squats, press-ups and rows) back-to-back using weights as heavy as she could go.

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